Derrek P. KONRAD

KONRAD, Derrek P.

Personal Data

Canadian Alliance
Prince Albert (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
December 12, 1943
businessman, land surveyor

Parliamentary Career

June 2, 1997 - March 26, 2000
  Prince Albert (Saskatchewan)
March 27, 2000 - October 22, 2000
  Prince Albert (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 38)

October 20, 2000

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I was interested to hear that the government has just answered 11 petitions.

I am pleased to present a petition signed by the good people of Nanaimo—Cowichan which I am presenting on their behalf at the request of their member. There are approximately 2,700 signatures on this petition.

The petitioners draw the attention of the House of Commons to the genetically modified organism issue. They talk about allowing these foods into Canada, non-labelling, no independent testing, and incidents occurring that indicate genetically modified foods are causing problems. The petitioners are calling on parliament to enforce labelling.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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October 17, 2000

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the momentum for an election has gathered a life of its own and that a fall election is now inevitable.

I may not be here after the election to take part in the debates in the House but I do want to go on the record as saying that it has been a meaningful experience.

When I ran for election in 1997, I believed that some of the most important things I could do would be to fight for equality among all Canadians and work toward an egalitarian society, one that did not categorize its people on the basis of race. I also believed that it was necessary to restore respect for all human life from conception to natural death.

I leave without having accomplished either goal, but when I was campaigning I made only one promise, which was to be faithful and to make a good effort. I believe that I have honoured that commitment by contributing to the debate.

Aside from those two larger issues, I have enjoyed serving the people of Prince Albert. I thank them for entrusting their federal affairs to me over the past three and half years. I look forward to what the future holds for me. I wish you well, Mr. Speaker, and all of my colleagues as well.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Federal Election
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September 27, 2000

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to address this bill again. I want to speak on both parts of this bill.

I notice the insertion of the word “right” in the bill, which does not mean much in light of recent supreme court decisions. It was probably requested by Warren Allmand who is a former minister of Indian affairs with this government.

I would like to speak about the process because process matters. The government seems to be under the impression that the end justifies the means, that the government can simply pass legislation to give legislative credibility to its actions and that it can hold a referendum after the fact to almost give credibility to a process that was quite flawed.

We had a lot of people in from Norway House and other parts of Canada who had connections with Norway House and who were really unhappy with the process that they went through. The result may have been inevitable but we had a lot of control over the process and it was not necessary to make a lot of people unhappy. Too much information was given to those people in too little time and it was not given to them in a language that they understood very well. They finally received a translation, if I remember correctly.

There were incentives given to vote for the legislation rather than voting for it based on its own merit. There was a denial of the use of public broadcasting facilities located in the town. Many people mentioned that they were not happy with that. That has created a great deal of bitterness in the community that will take years and years to deal with.

We talk about the honour of the crown a great deal when we talk about Indian affairs. In this case, the honour of the crown was somewhat tarnished by a process that these people had precious little control over.

In 1977, which was 23 years ago, the government signed an open-ended flood agreement that this act was meant to replace. These people have waited 23 years for a resolution to what they felt was their right. How did successive governments behave? They took a generation to deal with these issues. Older people are probably long since gone from the community for whatever reason. Young people grew up not knowing what they had had. A situation like this is unacceptable.

The Liberal government has a record of making big open-ended promises like the NFA which is very poorly defined. Then comes the reality check. Then comes the time when people across Canada or the people in the communities say that this is not deliverable or that the government has not delivered what it was supposed to deliver. It gets cut back, defined down and eventually gets to where it should have been right off the bat. That is not acceptable.

When the Canadian Alliance proposes that land claims, treaties and other agreements should be affordable, that the process should be transparent and that it should be capable of being delivered, the government attacks. The minister resorts to attacks on our party or personal attacks on the person who makes the criticism of the process. That is either myself or members of my party, my colleagues, who are under attack simply because we are quite realistic about dealing with these things.

We can think about a lot of things. In the Marshall decision, the minister made some really irresponsible comments about lumber, oil and gas after the Marshall decision came down. What was the result if it? Burnt Church, which is the current crisis.

We had the Lubicon building a sort of pretend reserve here to air their complaints and to publicize what they felt had gone wrong. I do not know what the total answer is to the Lubicon, but I know that a number of years ago the leader of the opposition at the time, who is now our Prime Minister, made a big promise. It was a promise he could not keep and probably had no intention of keeping.

Who did the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development blame yesterday? It was the Alberta government. If the Prime Minister, who was official opposition leader at the time, did not bother to consult with other governments to find out what their stand was, that is hardly an excuse for the position of the Alberta government.

To reflect on that type of action is ridiculous and it means that the honour of the crown was again tarnished. It means making promises that cannot be kept or that there is no intention of keeping. In the Lubicon, to say that I did not know is ridiculous. They had telephones as far back as 1993. That is some news for the Prime Minister in case he was not aware of that. In Burnt Church big promises were made but there was no delivery.

There is a lack of policy and a lack of progress in delivering what little the Liberals have. When they fail, bad manners is no excuse for action. The crown has other responsibilities but one of the words we never hear when we hear about those things is honour of the crown. Metaphorically speaking, people are always wrapping themselves in the flag.

However, let us talk about the honour of the crown. Does the crown not have an obligation to have honour ascribed to itself by fighting for freedom of speech and making sure that that happens? The people of the Cross Lake community were denied a voice on their own public radio system to broadcast their concerns with what was coming down. Whether they were right or wrong, they had a right to a voice and to be heard.

Does honour of the crown not require that the government to protect the weakest people in our country, our children? I refer to the Sharpe decision where the government sat on its hands for close to a year and did nothing about it. The decision allowed child pornography to be in the hands of pedophiles. Does the honour of the crown not require a strong defence force to protect its territories and its people? Where did the honour of the crown go on that issue?

We are always hearing about health care. The government cutback health care funding then bragged that it brought it back to where it almost used to be. Where was the honour of the crown? Where was the obligation to the people of Canada?

How about reasonable tax levels? Is the honour of the crown not impugned when tax levels are so bad that people are leaving the country, moving out from underneath the so-called protection of the crown and moving to other tax jurisdictions? How about responsible government that listens to the people? How about a working justice system that makes our streets safe through a parole system that works to protect people? How about a case that I am very strong on, a right to life for the unborn? I do not believe that the honour of the crown is much protected in many of these areas.

I would like to tell the government that I want to see it start talking about honour of the crown in many more areas than simply Indian affairs. The honour of the crown can be protected when land claim negotiations have respect for existing private property rights. Affordable and conclusive settlements would also protect the honour of the crown and would state where the government, particularly the Alliance government when it is elected, stood. It would be open and honest and would not raise expectations beyond all reason to then cut them back for 20 or 30 years until finally people gave up or were driven to desperation.

We will see that all stakeholders are involved in negotiations. That is an honourable thing to do. We will protect the democratic rights and freedoms of individual aboriginals on reserves, including private property rights so that people are not driven off the reserves due to lack of housing, lack of money or no private property rights, and where people can protect their families. I remind the government that the honour of the crown requires that this government look after all citizens of this country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Manitoba Claim Settlements Implementation Act
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September 26, 2000

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister likes to quote from old letters. He has written a few letters himself over the years. We have obtained the letter that the Prime Minister wrote to the Lubicon band just before the 1993 election. In it he said that the government should act swiftly to settle their land claim.

Today the Lubicon are so sick and tired of waiting that they are setting up a reserve right on the front lawn of parliament. The promise that the Prime Minister made in 1993 was never kept. Why did he make it? Was it just a political promise to win an election?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Aboriginal Affairs
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September 26, 2000

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to speak to Bill C-14, the Manitoba claim settlements implementation act. I was in Manitoba when the dams were being built. I was a surveyor and flew many miles over that country in a helicopter on my way to and from work. It is an interesting country and it was an interesting job.

Many aboriginal people in that area were deprived of some pretty nice land, particularly along the river. It is good land, but farther back it contains a lot of muskeg, so the land they lost was among the best. This bill will bring some finality to the issue and will put some money in their pockets so that they can get on with their lives. It is important. Not only is it some money, it is some land to make up for what they lost. It is land of equal value. I see from the bill that it will take about four times as much land to equal the value of what they did lose.

There were many questions raised by many people about the process used to get approval for the flood agreement. Most of those questions were never adequately answered. They were not answered in the community or in committee. It seemed to me that the Liberals spent a lot of time trying to hush up the issue and hurry this bill through. They spent a lot more time on procedural matters and objections to the list of witnesses that many of us in the official opposition and other opposition parties wanted to hear from.

We had more correspondence on this than anything I have seen since I came to the House. Members of the committee received a binder that is probably four inches thick and is filled with letters, briefs and presentations that have been made on this issue over the years. In the length of time we had to look at this bill, it was impossible to do a proper assessment and analysis of the entire situation. Also, the people most affected by this legislation were never really heard from when it was brought to parliament. That is not right.

The first agreement that was signed was so loose and open-ended that it gave rise to absolutely every kind of interpretation. It was not capable of being implemented due to its open-ended nature. Simply to bring some closure to the matter, the government trampled on the rights of a lot of people and overlooked due process.

People should not be deprived of their land without due process, and once deprived through legislative means they need to be adequately compensated. Those rights are available to all Canadians under expropriation acts, whether provincial or municipal. Certainly that right has to be there as well for Canada's aboriginals. They simply cannot be deprived of land and rights just because it happens to suit the political agenda of the party in power at the time. We are not overly happy about many of these things.

We notice the insertion of the word right. I am not sure, given recent court decisions, that the insertion of this word adds anything or that leaving it out will detract from anything. To that extent I agree with my colleague from Churchill. She had it about right there. The courts seem to be playing more and more of a role. It seems the Canadian public, the Canadian government and the Canadian taxpayer are being governed by our courts, much more than by the people who were elected, not appointed, to make the laws. We need to look after that.

Some of the questions I have about the transfer of land in fee simple to the band concern private ownership. Let us remember the bill has two parts. There is also a treaty land entitlement part to the bill. I and my colleagues doubt that any individuals will be able to exercise private property rights over any of that land. It will have to be always dealt with in common.

People who have appeared before our committee have said the lack of private property rights by natives over aboriginal land is one of the biggest barriers to economic development for those people, not just as a group but as individuals. The head of the First Nations Bank is one of those people. The head of the Business Development Bank of Canada is another individual who believes there need to be private property rights for individuals to make any headway in society, and that the communal style of owning property, which means lending institutions have no way to take collateral, is one of the biggest drawbacks to economic development for aboriginals.

These things were never addressed in the legislation. The government had an opportunity to get to work on these types of things.

The treaty land entitlement process does make up for shortfalls in Indian reserves that were established and surveyed at the times the treaties were signed, and it is a fairly generous settlement at that. Individuals will not benefit from it; simply bands will benefit. Many times that means the leadership gets most of the benefit, not the band members.

I have had aboriginal people come to my office in the riding of Prince Albert, I have had people telephone me at home, and I have had people contacting me by phone, letter, e-mail, fax, or whatever in my office in Ottawa, saying they want to be able to exercise private property rights. They would love to get a square mile of land somewhere, anywhere, maybe with some lumber on it so that they could do some logging, build a home, start to farm, or something like that.

Can they do that under the bill? Nothing doing. They are absolutely kept out of the mainstream of the Canadian economy because of legislation such as this and attitudes such as those on the other side, which deny Indian people the same rights that are available to every person in the House.

There needs to be a process to allow native people to take possession of their hopes. I recently spoke to a man on a reserve who had been given six months to get off the reserve and out of the house he lived in. He had been married to an Indian woman. The band said “We need this house for band members. You are not a band member”. His wife had just died and he got a letter from the band saying “You are out of here”. Is that the way to treat Canadians, aboriginal or otherwise? I do not think so.

The lack of rights available to people living on reserve is a scandal and needs to be addressed. While the bill does some good things locally for the people in making redress for land taken from them, it is a far cry from the kind of legislation we need to introduce to ensure that aboriginal women have the protections they need.

I am sure that woman would not have been happy to know her husband was told “You are out of here”. Fortunately he had daughters who were willing to look after him and took him in, but here was a man who was capable of living independently. He was not that old. He was forced to live with his children or else leave his home and his friends. That just does not work.

Under the legislation the federal government will fund Indian bands to undertake land selection studies. In Saskatchewan, where the treaty land entitlement process has been in business for some time, too many bands have been spending too much money doing studies and not enough buying. If any farmer were to spend that kind of money on studies, he long since would have been into bankruptcy, out of business, and working for a living.

There needs to be some accountability for the money that is transferred and held for these people. Certainly we will be watching that. I am sure we will be taking phone calls on that same issue over the years. We intend to form the government, and we will be making certain that this money is well spent on behalf of Canada's Indian people.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Manitoba Claim Settlements Implementation Act
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